Midday: Aus shares track 0.17% higher at noon

Market Reports

Despite positive leads from Wall Street, the Australian share market has struggled for direction this morning and is just in the black, tracking 0.17 per cent higher at noon. BHP is the biggest drag on the index so far, as commodity prices took another turn for the worse overnight, but Woolworths shares have jumped on speculation a private equity firm is eyeing up Big W. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 9 points higher at 5,265. On the futures market the SPI is 9 points higher. 
 
Company news

Nine Entertainment Company (ASX:NEC) has been advised that the Apollo Group of companies has sold its 9.82 per cent interest in the company by way of a fully underwritten block trade which was distributed to a group of domestic and international institutional investors. The trade occurred after the close of the market on Friday the 20th of November. Shares in Nine are trading down 0.75 per cent at $1.65. 
 
Veda Group Limited (ASX:VED) has announced it has entered into a binding agreement with Equifax whereby Equifax will acquire all the shares of Veda at a price of $2.825 per share by way of Scheme of Arrangement. The directors of Veda have unanimously recommended that Veda shareholders vote in favour of the scheme. Shares in Veda Group are trading up 2.23 per cent at $2.75. 
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Staples, gaining 1.48 per cent to 8,437. Shares in Woolworths have risen 2.93 per cent and trading at $24.41. Shares in Australian Agriculture and Tassal Group are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Materials, falling 1.25 per cent to 7,392. Shares in South 32 have fallen 5.06 per cent, trading at $1.22. Shares in Northern Star and BHP are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,076 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 72.22 US cents.